Salahuddin brushes off demonstrations
Nine years into his reign of the Bangladesh Football Federation, Kazi Salahuddin has finally realised that he needs to initiate a youth development programme to build quality footballers for the national team following the team's failure against Bhutan in the Asian Cup Play-Off Qualifiers earlier this month.
Salahuddin went to the BFF office yesterday for the first time since Bangladesh's 1-3 defeat to Bhutan last Monday, and the BFF boss briefed journalists about his views regarding that match as well as his future plans. As he addressed media, approximately 100 football fans kept demonstrating outside the BFF headquarters, demanding Salahuddin's resignation.
“We would have definitely taken it [the blame] if we had showed any negligence regarding the national team, but the problem is that the national team is not playing well and the players are not performing well. The national team can't produce results despite being provided all the facilities. We have to realise that this bunch of footballers are not good enough to play for the national team and we have to go for a future plan,” the BFF boss said. “We have to go with youth programme. Though youth development programme is not the job of the federation, but in this circumstance we have realised that we have to do it and we have already started working on it.”
Under the leadership of Salahuddin, grassroots competitions and youth development programmes have been significantly ignored which led to a crisis of quality players for the national team.
Even though the Salahuddin-led committee kept the professional leagues rolling over the last eight years, over this period the committee managed to hold the senior division league four times, the second division three times, the third division four times and the pioneer division six times while the leagues at district level were held only twice.
The Sohrawardi Cup, the Sher-e-Bangla Cup, Club Cup championship for district teams, school tournaments and age-level tournaments have almost disappeared from the BFF calendar.
“We will go for youth development even though I could not do it so far. You will judge it after three or four years. If this programme doesn't work, I will leave the federation and you won't need to ask me about it [resignation]. But I am positive that it will work,” Salahuddin said revealing that his future plans include building regional development centres, holding coaches' development courses, coaches' certificate courses, seminars on premier and championship leagues and sponsoring the DFAs to run district football.
Salahuddin, meanwhile, termed the demonstration by fans as 'just a drama' and he believed that the demonstrators were backed by those defeated in the BFF elections.
“What is happening is a just a drama. I would have been felt hurt if I saw real footballers or you [journalists] stage the demonstration. It is sad that the drama is taking place against me. But I have come here with a mandate and I will do my work,” said Salahuddin.